Archive | October, 2010

A Suit That Fits for an Ethical Bespoke Suit

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A Suit That Fits for an Ethical Bespoke Suit

Posted on 26 October 2010 by Marc

Now, A Suit That Fits isn’t just another online tailor that takes your measurements, punches them into a computer which then cuts and stiches the material. The company was founded in 2006 after the owner was travelling in Nepal and became friendly with a family of tailors. After returning to the UK with a few suits that he had purchased he decided, after receiving high praise on their quality from friends and strangers, to form an ethical partnership with the family run business.

The cutters each have on average 30 years of experience whilst the stitchers have over 4 years of experience and both cutters and stitchers are paid 50% above the national average and receive work-related bonuses. In addition, 5% of all profits are donated to the local HPV School; by paying well and providing excellent working conditions A Suit That Fits ensures that the high standards that you would expect from a bespoke suit are not only met, but exceeded.

Ordering is done in one of 2 ways, you can enter your measurements and design your suit online or if, like me, the idea of ordering a suit online scares you, you can book an appointment at one of their 25 fitting centres throughout the UK and get not only an exact fitting but the chance to see and touch the wide variety of cloths that you can choose from. A fitting costs £25 but all customers who are measured in-store receive a fit guarantee and a second fitting for any tweaks that are required. If you order online with your own measurements there is a £40 fee for alterations.

It would seem that, if at all possible, you opt for an in-store fitting as you’ll then get to design your suit from a range of fabrics ranging from the best quality wools, from winter cashmere to summer mohair with materials like silk and linen.  What’s more there will be a style adviser to help guide you through the process of choosing fabric, linings and style whilst taking great care to ensure perfect measurements are taken.

Once the measurements are known your specifications are then wired over to the family-run workshop in Kathmandu to be expertly cut and stitched, checked by a quality support team and then checked again before being shipped to the UK ready for you to wear within 3 to 8 weeks.

At A Suit That a bespoke two-piece suits start at £200, tailored overcoats at £300, shirts start at £50 if you buy 5 or as singles from £70.  They will also tailor trousers, jackets, waistcoats and dinner suits.

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James the Doorstop


James the Doorstop

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Chris Ford

I love this quirky door stop. Who would have thought someone would take the boring out of doorstops? Well, they have with this neat little rubber man called James the Doorstop

Simply wedge Jame’s foot under the door and it’s staying put!

£13.50 from

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Cut the Cost of a Bespoke Suit with Keynoir

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Cut the Cost of a Bespoke Suit with Keynoir

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Marc

Every now and then an offer comes along that you can’t afford to miss and today is one of those days. In case you haven’t heard, Keynoir is undoubtedly THE leading luxury lifestyle members’ club which handpicks only the finest experiences in and around London for its members.

Given that membership is free there really is no excuse for missing out on offers such as 70% off an evening of whiskey tasting at London’s Albannach or 61% off dinner at Soho’s Quo Vadis Restaurant and today they have a fantastic offer of a £160 voucher towards a bespoke suit from King & Allen for only £80, that’s a 50% saving!

With King & Allen there are no online forms to fill in and quite possibly get wrong.  You can only get a suit by being measured in person at one of their nationwide fitting locations.  Once there you can inspect the range of over 2,000 fabrics while a King & Allen expert measures you and creates a blueprint of your body.

This blueprint and the measurements will be used to tailor your suit by hand from a roll of bespoke cloth within 6 to 8 weeks. You’ll want to experience the renowned King & Allen’s full bespoke fitting service, including their Fit Guarantee when you discover that a bespoke tailored suit can be yours for far less than you imagined.

Ladies and gents suits are priced from £249 however with the Keynoir offer you’ll save £80 just by claiming 1 of 140 half price vouchers, even better is the fact that you have until 19 April 2011 to redeem the voucher so you don’t have to feel rushed into ordering Having said that you could end up with a new bespoke suit in time for Christmas.

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How To : Cook the Perfect Steak

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How To : Cook the Perfect Steak

Posted on 18 October 2010 by Chris Ford

I recently had the chance to ask BBC chef Simon Rimmer how to cook the perfect steak and these were his top tips:

Selection – Pick some good-quality meat – something that’s aged for at least 21 days if you can. That means that even if you cook it rare, the blood doesn’t seep out.

Temperature – Take the steak out the fridge ahead of time and bring the meat up to room temperature.

Seasoning – Rub a little olive oil into the meat and then season, don’t oil the pan

Heat – Get the pan really hot; use a griddle pan if you can to get those charred lines on the meat.

Turning – You only want to turn your steak once, any more will ruin it. Different cuts take different times depending on how rare you like your steak.

Is it ready? – Don’t be tempted to cut into the steak to check its cooked, try and get a feel for how you like your steak cooked as cutting draws the moisture and flavour our of the meat.

If you are looking for a source of quality meat may I suggest the rather excellent Donald Russell who will deliver steaks straight to your door

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Make Your Feet Sing with Snazzy Socks!


Make Your Feet Sing with Snazzy Socks!

Posted on 16 October 2010 by Marc

I recently watched a 5 minute interview with newsreader Jon Snow and found myself nodding in agreement with one of his statements.  Jon was asked about his penchant for wearing rather loud ties and socks and replied that there is not much you can do to brighten up a suit but ties and socks are a few things that can help.  The only other thing I can think of is a handkerchief and Otis Batterbee has quite a few to choose from.

However by far the most versatile of the three are socks!  Socks brighten up not only a dull grey suit but can add a zing to blue jeans and for those who insist on wearing socks with sandals at least make them bold!

Luckily, for people like myself and Jon Snow, Lyle & Scott are launching two styles of socks, striped and solid, to their Vintage range in time for Christmas and I’m sure there will be a flurry of letters arriving at the North Pole with some adult handwriting proclaiming the writers have been good boys and requesting a few pairs or will I be the only one?

Of course it may well be that postal delays prevent said letters being delivered in which case it’s lucky that Lyle & Scott have priced the socks very reasonably at only £10 for the solid coloured ones and £12 for the striped.  What’s more, those clever people at Lyle & Scott have only put their flying eagle motif on the left sock, so even if you’re nursing a headache from too much mulled wine, you’ll always know which sock belongs on which foot!

You’ll find the socks from December together with the rest of the Lyle & Scott range online at both and as well as in-store at Lyle & Scott outlets together with some of the UK’s most exclusive independents and department stores.

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Enjoy a 60 Second Massage with Clarisonic

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Enjoy a 60 Second Massage with Clarisonic

Posted on 15 October 2010 by Marc

If the shelves groaning with skin care products aimed at men are anything to go by it would appear that today’s modern man is finally less inhibited than his forefathers when it comes to looking after his skin.  I have to say it’s about time too!  When you consider that the average chap scrapes the hair and skin from his face 2-3 times a week it’s no wonder that the majority have suffered from skin irritation caused by shaving at some point or another.

Now, I’m sure I speak for a lot of men out there when I admit that I like gadgets.  In the bathroom I have not only a Sonicare toothbrush but a Waterpik water jet and I may well have to splash out on the latest gizmo, a Clarisonic Skin Cleaning System.

Now, if you think that sounds like the toothbrush it’s probably because it was developed by the inventor of the Sonicare toothbrush and uses a similar sonic micro-massage technology.  Just like the toothbrush, you simply apply a cleanser or balm to the skin care brush, and switch on. The brush head oscillates at a sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second (faster than the eye can see) and works with the skin’s natural elasticity to clean the face, neck and body by gently massaging dirt and impurities from the surface and deep within the pores.

Best of all you can do the whole process in just 60 seconds!  Yes, in one minute you can fully massage and cleanse your face.  There’s a nifty little electronic timer which lets you know when to clean the next area of the face and you can even change gears, moving through multiple different speed and duration settings.  As it is waterproof, it can be used in the shower and there is a Plus model which comes with a second replaceable head which specifically targets the body, perfect for tackling sweat and trapped dirt after a sports game or workout.

Now, you’re probably asking, “Where can I get one of these beauties?”  Well, you can order direct from and get free  shipping or if you are in London you could wait until Monday and head over to Knightsbridge where a special edition Clarisonic with a Charcoal Grey power handle is being launched exclusively in Harrods to coincide with the opening its new Gentleman’s Lounge.

Yes, from Monday 18 October Harrods will have a dedicated department which is testament to the rise of the modern day male groomer.  The Harrods Gentlemen’s Lounge will allow men to escape from the rigours of shopping and enjoy reviving treatments, watch films, log on to computers or even have a refreshing snifter!  Of course you will also be able to find out about the latest fragrances; skincare and grooming products but admit it, who doesn’t fancy the idea of having a cheeky wee dram while the other half is shopping till she drops?

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Simon Rimmer talks to us about Steak Week

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Simon Rimmer talks to us about Steak Week

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Chris Ford

Chef and food writer Simon Rimmer is the new face of Beefeater Grill’s National Steak Week.  Simon is the owner of Greens, an award-winning vegetarian restaurant in Manchester. He also is the in-house chef on BBC2’s ‘Something for the Weekend’.

To celebrate National Steak week ,Beefeater Grill and Simon have come up with the Steak Lovers menu for £24.99 you will be treated to a four course meal with optional wines selected to match each course:

Beef Consomme (with slices of seeded bread)

Sirloin Steak and Pepper skewers (with a chilli dip sauce)

Steak Platter – A collection of Rump, Fillet, rib-eye , served with chips, onion rings, grilled tomato, mushroom and a peppercorn sauce.

Fire and Ice cream – Ice Cream served with a sweet chilli sauce

and I must say I was very impressed when I tried it. Afterwards I had the chance to ask Simon  a few questions:

The steak lovers menu excites the meat lover within me, can you tell me what excites you about the menu in particular?

I think the strength of the menu is that often people aren’t quite sure what the various cuts of meats do in terms of flavour and all they go on is price point, and tend to think “well the fillet’s really expensive so I’ll have the Rump” but if you get to taste the Rump, Sirloin, Rib-eye and Fillet you get to see there are big differences in texture and flavour.  With this menu the platter course includes all those cuts which is something you don’t often get, it’s real blokes food.

Is the beverage you select important with a good steak?

Food and wine matching works on one of two levels, as either a complement or a contrast.  So you complement it for example if you have a nice smokey piece of fillet steak  then you want something soft and smooth like the Malbac we had or you have something that contrasts it, something peppery like a Pinot Noir.  In very basic terms if you have something sweet and something sour it aggravates our taste buds, it makes us salivate which then brings out more flavour in the steak.

What or who first inspired you to think about cooking as a career?

I’ve always been involved with cooking from when I was a kid, both my mum and dad cooked so its always something thats been around. When I was a student I worked in bars and restaurants always on the front rather than in the kitchen and then just decided to take the plunge and buy a restaurant.  Eventually  through lack of money and not being able to employ anyone I ended up in the kitchen which turns out was the best thing that ever happened to me, I absolutely love it, its a great career; you never stop learning.

Do you have a favorite dish you like to cook for yourself?

Fish – I cook loads and loads of fish, I do a monkfish dish which is monk fish, potatoes , tomatoes, artichokes, butter lemon, parsley and garlic, you season the fish in a little bit of flour then fry it off in a bit of butter to get some flavour, plenty of lemon juice, chuck in all the other ingredients, a nice big load of butter and put it through the oven for about 15-20mins so the butter starts to kind of crisp up on top of all the ingredients, it’s a big one pot dish, throw it on the plate with a bit of crusty bread and it’s absolutely delicious.

You aren’t vegetarian or a trained chef – how did you end up opening a veggie restaurant?

We were looking for something that was cheap and cheerfull and I lived just round the corner from where Greens is and it was originally a very down beat hippie veggie cafe. The original plan was we would buy it, make a bit of money then after two years sell it then buy a real resturant but we got the bug and were doing something people liked and we have now had it for 20 years.

when we started it was 28 covers now its 84 covers, we bought more land to extend the building into the shop next door, it’s been a real labour of love. So by default we started off with a veggie restaurant but its turned out to be a great thing to do.

What veggie dish would you serve an avid meat eater?

I’d get some puff pastry and fill it with risotto rice, wild mushrooms, chilli, goats cheese, roll it up then bake it for 20mins then serve with a good creamy mashed potato with a red wine sauce and roasted beetroot.

What sort of environment is your kitchen?

When I first started employing people a friend of mine who had run a business for years said that as an employer you have to give people the opportunity to succeed not the opportunity to fail, letting them fail is far easier than giving them the opportunity to succeed and I think that being in an environment of terror and fear isn’t the best way as a human being to work and so I’m not saying people don’t get told off and in trouble when they do things wrong but fundamentally we work in a calm controlled environment.

Its very calm, I’m not a big shouter full stop really, I always say to my lads in the kitchen that I think I’m more the disappointed father rather than angry dad. It’s more like “ are you going to send that out?, if you think that’s ok I’m just a bit disappointed really”.

What’s your favourite / most rewarding part of our job?

My favouite part of the job is at the end of a really busy service, you always hit a point on a busy service where we are just about out of control here , we aren’t going to be able to cope with the volume of trade that’s coming through the door we are really right up against it and then you come through it, at the end of the night you sit down with a cold beer and you recount the tales of war of what’s gone on during the night and take the piss out of each other for whats gone right and what’s gone wrong, there is no better feeling than the beer at the end of the night, it’s well earned.

Gordon Ramsay has been criticized in the press for his pub chain using so called ‘boil in the bag’ cooking, which turns out is a french technique called  Sous-vide, do you use it or would you ever use it?

What he was criticized for was having a central production kitchen and people were saying he was producing ready meals, and it’s complete nonsense.  A lot of chains will have a central production kitchen to maintain standards, say for example that monk fish dish we talked about about earlier, it might well be that that is produced in batches and then sealed into individual portions to make the control of quality easier and I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I have two restaurants which are both very different so it wouldn’t work for us but if I had six or seven sites I think there’s nothing wrong with having a central production kitchen, especially if it maintains quality then so be it.

Can ready meals ever be good food?

Yeah they can absolutely, I think that in the same way any form of Chinese takeaway can be both good and bad , you just have to be selective in them, Ive had plenty of decent ready meals. The ones that tend to work well are things like Lasagne ,curries and stews, anything more ambitious than that
then they can be a bit crappy really, you do get what you pay for, if you pay 99p for a ready meal in a petrol station then that’s what your gonna get.

Simon Rimmer is working with Beefeater Grill to launch their Steak Lover’s Menu for National Steak Week [18th – 24th October]. Visit for more information

Comments (3) – Bespoke Shirts

Tags: , , – Bespoke Shirts

Posted on 01 October 2010 by Chris Ford

Over the past couple of years several online custom shirt sites have popped up offering Savile Row style custom shirts at high street prices. The idea excites someone like me that has always been not quite one size or another thereby making off the rack shirts either too big in places or too small in others, the question is of course are they any good?

I have now tried 3 or 4 of these online sites over the last year, all of which I’ve had various problems with so much so I was starting to think maybe I was asking too much from a custom shirt priced under £100 well it turns out I was right to expect more!

Having been a huge hit in Europe, have now decided to launch in the UK bringing their custom shirt service to us Brits. What makes the Bivolino online design service so brilliant is their patented biometric sizing and fit system. By keying in your measurements and selecting from Comfort, Regular or Slim Fit Bivolino work their magic and expertise to produce a shirt which fits perfectly to your size.

Now, I was a little concerned by the lack of measurements needed to order my shirt; on all the other sites I’ve used they require quite literally every part of your torso to be measured which, unless you have someone on hand to help, can be quite difficult to be honest  so while Bivolino’s system sounded fantastic I was curious as to how well it would work.  After I entered my style and cloth choices, my neck size, age and height I let the site do it’s biometric magic and well, crossed my fingers it would turn out okay.

It turns out I had no need to worry, the shirt arrived 18 days after I ordered it (they promise a turnaround of 21 days) and the fit is fantastic, not too tight, not too loose and I’m very impressed with the quality; in fact I wore the shirt yesterday and I’ve lost count of the number of compliments I received so in my mind it’s a winner.

So what if I wasn’t happy?   Well, the shirt comes with a pre-paid return label to a UK address and a check list so you can list any problems you may have with the fit e.g. whether you would like the sleeves slightly shorter or the chest taken in, this is very reassuring. In short I’m very happy with my shirt and as soon as pay day arrives I plan to order another.

For more info on Bivolino head over to where custom shirts start from a rather reasonable £49.00

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Nikon D3000 – The SLR for beginners

Posted on 01 October 2010 by Chris Ford

To summarise my opinion of the camera: it’s the perfect DSLR for a beginner. That’s not just because this is priced at ‘entry’ level, it’s because Nikon have developed this camera with the novice in mind. So often people buy SLRs and never move on from the automatic Program mode. This camera teaches you how to take control of the camera.

Switch the camera dial to Guide and three options appear on the 3″ LCD screen. Shoot, View/Delete and Set up. The shoot guide includes three options – “Easy Operation”, “Advanced Operation” and “Timers and Remote Control”. Choosing one of the options then takes you to a further set of options with choices where the camera not only guides you through making the right settings but it also explains why. For example, in advanced operation you can choose to “Soften Backgrounds”. The guide tells you about the Aperture-priority mode and then visually demonstrates what happens when you change the F number with a guidance note telling you to “Choose lower f-numbers to blur the background”.

Other modes range from the point-and-shoot modes (Auto where the camera controls everything or the no-flash mode where the camera controls everything but the use of flash), Program (you control things like ISO, flash etc., and the camera controls exposure), Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, Manual and then a range of preset modes (portrait, landscape, child, sports, close-up and night portrait).

The camera also helps when you haven’t got things set up correctly. A “?” flashes in the corner of the LCD screen – press the ? button and a message will pop-up telling you what the problem is i.e. “The subject is too dark, cannot adjust exposure. Use the flash.” The information available on the LCD while you take a photograph is excellent and very helpful for getting the settings right.

So in short for novices at SLR photography, this is a great choice and the perfect place to start learning how to take advantage of all the options and settings that an SLR offers you…

The Nikon D3000 digital SLR camera is available from Amazon for £338.00

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